Canal de l'Ourcq
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After a gentle, 100km journey from the river Ourcq in Picardie, through the northern Seine-St-Denis suburb and into Paris via Porte de la Villette, the 19th-century Canal de l’Ourcq ends its journey in front of the arty MK2 cinemas at Stalingrad’s Bassin de la Villette.
It was originally created by Napoleon to provide Paris with drinking water, but largely used for freight haulage before its edges were bestowed with some of the worst 60s and 70s housing in Paris.
Nowadays, like the Canal-St-Martin, further downstream, the Canal del’Ourcq draws a trendy crowd, from students to 30-somethings with young families, who come to play boules on the sandy stretches, picnic on the water’s edge, and even play ping-pong in the playground areas.
At the northern edge of the Bassin is an unusual 1885 hydraulic lifting bridge, Pont de Crimée, which leads to place de Joinville, where a cheap market (on Thursdays and Sundays) sells the best Portuguese chicken in town.